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Low-scoring Leafs look to break out vs. Lightning

by Brian Hunter
LIGHTNING (13-8-3) at MAPLE LEAFS (8-11-3)


Last 10:
Tampa Bay 5-4-1; Toronto 3-6-1

Season series:
Second of four meetings this season. Steven Stamkos scored a pair of goals and Dan Ellis made 28 saves for his 12th career shutout as Tampa Bay won 4-0 on home ice back on Nov. 9. Nate Thompson and Dominic Moore had the other goals.

Big story: Preventing goals appeared to be the primary concern in Toronto when Jean-Sebastien Giguere went down with a groin injury, but Jonas Gustavsson has been serviceable in his absence. The big problem for the Maple Leafs of late has been scoring. They enter Tuesday's game having lost three of four, and they have a total of one goal in those three defeats.

Team Scope:

Lightning: Five-straight wins have given way to consecutive losses for Tampa Bay, which did manage a point out of Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Florida. Still, it was a disappointing result given the Lightning were on home ice and playing a division rival which has struggled all season scoring goals. The Panthers also rallied from a 2-1 third-period deficit, taking a brief lead before Sean Bergenheim scored to force overtime and ensure the Lightning didn't come away totally empty.

"It's tough when you give up a lead like that," Ellis said. "We needed to bear down and close out that game. Those were two points we needed to have."

Maple Leafs:
Giguere could make his return to the Toronto crease this week, but it probably won't be Tuesday. Gustavsson has given up three goals in each of his last two starts, losing to Buffalo and Ottawa, but he would have needed flawless efforts to win either of those games. The Maple Leafs were blanked 3-0 by the Senators on Saturday despite 25 saves from their goaltender.

"I don't know if I'd call it frustrating but it's tough for all of us," Gustavsson said. "We had some scoring opportunities but the puck wasn't bouncing for us. We just have to keep working the same way, try to improve myself and the other guys will do their part."

Who's hot: Teddy Purcell already has a career-high 17 points for the Lightning, including 3 goals and 4 assists in his last six games.

Injury report: Tampa Bay forward Simon Gagne, who hasn't played since Oct. 21 due to a strained neck, is nearing his return. He's currently on injured reserve along with captain Vincent Lecavalier (hand) and defenseman Matt Smaby (ankle). … Toronto is waiting on Giguere's return and has captain Dion Phaneuf (leg) and forward Colby Armstrong (hand/foot) on injured reserve.

Stat pack: The Lightning are 11-3-1 this season when Stamkos scores a goal, but have lost seven of nine games when he doesn't light the lamp. … The Maple Leafs are 6-for-12 on the power play in their last three games at Air Canada Centre, all victories.

Puck drop:
Trying to stir up a little offense, Toronto coach Ron Wilson is moving prospect Nazem Kadri to center the top line and inserting AHL recall Joey Crabb into the lineup. Crabb led the AHL's Toronto Marlies in scoring.

"It's been a while since I've been up so I'm just going to out there and try to have fun and bring a little energy," Crabb, who had 29 games of NHL experience with Atlanta during the 2008-09 season, told the Toronto Sun. "I'm just going to work hard for the team and hit some guys."

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